Burtonisation is the act of adding sulfate, often in the form of gypsum, to the water used for the brewing of beer, in order to bring out the flavour of the hops. The name comes from the town of Burton upon Trent which had several very successful breweries due to the chemical composition of the local water.


In the early 19th century pale ale was being successfully brewed in London. In 1822, the method had been copied by the Burton upon Trent brewer Samuel Allsopp, who got a more hoppy tasting version of the beer because of the sulfate rich local water. The clean, crisp, bitter flavour of beer brewed by Allsopp in Burton became very popular and by 1888 there were 31 breweries in the town supplying demand for Burton Ale. The characteristic whiff of sulfur indicating the presence of sulfate ions became known as the "Burton snatch". [ [http://www.marstonsdontcompromise.co.uk/beer/burton.htm Marston's Burton Bitter crafted using only the finest ingredients ] ]

Later, the chemist, C. W. Vincent, analysed the waters of Burton and isolated the calcium sulfate content as being responsible for accenting the hop bitterness in Burton Ale.


Burtonisation is used when a brewer wishes to accent the hops in a pale beer, such as a pale ale. It is not used for dark beers such as stout. A degree of sulfate ions in the water is also appropriate for emulation of the Czech Pilsener style.

Introducing magnesium sulfate into the brewing water, or "liquor", creates a rounder, fuller taste that enhances other flavors in the beer. However, it also has a laxative effect.

ee also

*Pale ale
*Burton upon Trent


External links

* [http://www.murphyandson.co.uk/BrewingArticles/WaterEverywhere.htm Water, Water Everywhere by Ray Alton]

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